Anatomy of my backpack: Scotland

It’s time for another trip to the world of travel backpacks! Previously, Souvenirs has published a guide for choosing the right travel backpack, as well as what to pack in it, but now I’m going to get a bit more specific. This past March, I took a trip to Scotland with just my trusty 40L backpack. I went hostel-hopping beginning in Edinburgh, through the Highlands to the Isle of Skye, stopped by Stirling, and made it all the way back to Edinburgh. From my backpack choice to my packing list and organization methods, my preparations were pretty exhaustive. Many little items on this packing list are discussed in further detail in my 5 products to up your travel game article. Without further ado, here’s a look at the anatomy of my backpack.

1. Backpack

I absolutely love my backpack; it’s a Deuter Fox 40L, which I chose for a couple of reasons. I didn’t want to check any bags, and typically, 40L backpacks have the maximum dimensions allowed for carry-on bags. With this knowledge, I headed to REI and got fitted by an awesome employee who had me try on about eight different 40L packs loaded with 25 pounds each. Many of them were good, but none of them were perfect – until he mentioned that a child’s backpack might be the best fit for my rather petite 5’3” frame. Sure enough, I knew the Fox became my new best friend when I had to ask a couple of times, “Are you sure you put in all the weights?”

My backpack is a top loader with access to the bottom through a front zipper. The top “brain pouch” is also stuffable for easy-access items. I found this is what works best for me, my packing goals (carry-on only, comfortable and easy to fit in plane overhead compartment) and my body type. So, to find your perfect backpack, it’s definitely a good idea to check out the previously mentioned Souvenirs articles on backpacking, and then get fitted at your local outdoor gear store. Even if you buy your pack elsewhere, most places will help show you how to fit all the straps properly to ensure a heavy pack doesn’t hurt you.

2. Wardrobe

I headed to the very north of the U.K. in early springtime, so I prepared for chilly, wet weather. Since I have limited space, everything I chose in my wardrobe is meant to be versatile.

  • 2 chunky sweaters (I’ll wear one on the plane)
  • 1 light cardigan
  • 2 long sleeved shirts
  • 1 short sleeved tee shirt
  • 1 pair leggings (I’ll wear them on the plane)
  • 1 pair jeans + 1 belt
  • 1 large blanket scarf (I wear it on the plane- it triples as a blanket, face mask, and pillow)
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 2 pairs of thick wool socks

3. Packing Cubes

If you’ve never heard of packing cubes, then it’s time to learn. They’re a complete lifesaver for organization and make it so simple to find what I’m looking for without dumping everything out and digging around.

  • 1 small for underwear and scarf
  • 1 large for pants and bulky sweaters
  • 1 medium for tops and cardigan

4. Toiletries Bag

5. Turkish Towel

6. Travel Journal

I have my flight information and itinerary listed out in the front of my travel journal and filled the rest of it with day-by-day entries. I like to save boarding passes, receipts, ticket stubs, etc., so my journal also wraps shut to hold it all inside. This is a great way to remember everything about my trip.

7. Sleep Sack

My sleep sack, also known as a Silk Sak, is my safe, clean, cozy nest. It’s like a gigantic sleeping bag, but just made of a thin layer of silk.

8. Weather Gear

Let’s be real- this is Scotland in springtime: cold and rainy.

  • Long fleece lined raincoat with hood (I’ll wear it on the plane)
  • Gloves
  • Hat

9. Shoes

  • Sperry Duck Boots
  • Columbia Hiking Boots (I had to link them because they’re just that good– warm, comfortable and waterproof)
  • Flip flops for hostel showers

10. Stuffable Backpack

  • It folds up into itself, so it’s compact, but it’s perfect if I want a small daypack!

11. Refillable water bottle, because nothing ruins my trip like dehydration

12. Electronics

  • Phone and charger
  • Portable battery and its charger
  • Outlet converter
  • Earbuds

13. The Important Papers

  • Passport
  • Driver’s License
  • Itinerary
  • Travel Insurance Policy Card
  • Boarding Passes
  • Booking Confirmations (for hostels, tours, planes, trains, etc.)
  • Copies of all of the above (physical and digital)

14. Neck Pillow

15. Wallet

16. Sunglasses

  • In retrospect, these were completely unnecessary for the same reason that my raincoat was completely essential